Obama: 'Terrorist threat' on Jewish targets thwarted

UPS packages with explosives sent from Yemen to two synagogues in Chicago intercepted after US intelligence tip-off; search for more devices ongoing.

311_UPS airplane (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
311_UPS airplane
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
US President Barack Obama announced Friday that law enforcement authorities in the US, UK and the United Arab Emirates have thwarted two attempted terrorist attacks on synagogues in the Chicago area.
Obama called the incident "a credible terrorist threat" and said he was informed by US counter-terror intelligence officials Thursday of a suspected attack. The president and other White House officials repeatedly stated that, contrary to earlier media reports, two packages found and examined - one in the East Midlands in the UK and another in Dubai - did in fact contain explosive material. RELATED:Attempt to carry explosives device on El Al flight foiledReport: US to advise vigilance on European travelsIn a statement released by the White House, Obama said that officials were still looking into all the facts but that "we do know that the packages originated in Yemen. We also know that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a terrorist group based in Yemen, continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens, and our friends and allies."
International law enforcement authorities are also continuing to search other packages recently shipped from Yemen and the Persian Gulf region on suspicion that more explosive devices may be headed for the US.
Fear of more explosive devices heading to the US led to the escorting by two US fighter jets of an Emirates Airlines passenger jet carrying cargo from Canada to the US on Friday. Nothing out of the ordinary was said to have occurred before or during the flight, but the fighter jet escort was ordered as a precautionary measure.
Both of the suspicious packages containing explosives were shipped from Yemen using the United Parcel Service company.
The first package that was found in the East Midlands contained a toner cartridge with wires and powder, and was discovered during an extra-vigilant screening of cargo in the United Kingdom prompted by reports from US intelligence.
Searches of UPS packages were also conducted in the US cities of Philadelphia, Newark in New Jersey, and New York City.
"The system worked very well," the president's counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan stated during a White House press briefing. He indicated that a credible intelligence tip-off was what led authorities to search parcel shipments from Yemen.
Concerns about the possibility of similar and potentially dangerous devices shipped elsewhere prompted officials to check other cargo headed to the US.
US Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Kristin Lee says the planes in Philadelphia and Newark were being checked. The planes were moved away from terminal buildings so law enforcement officials could investigate them.
In New York City, police responded to reports of a possible explosive in a UPS truck, top NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. Browne said the package was removed and was being examined in Brooklyn. Mike Mangeot, a spokesman for Atlanta-based UPS Inc., said two planes in Philadelphia that had come from Cologne, Germany, and Paris were being investigated.
"Out of an abundance of caution, those aircraft have been isolated, and they are looking into the shipments in question there," he said.